1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

The Divine comedy of Dante Alighieri (Volume 3) online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Divine comedy of Dante Alighieri (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook










cCbc lutiersiOe press,

Copyright, 1892,

All rights reserved.


The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. 8. A.
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.




Proem. Invocation. Beatrice and Dante ascend to
the Sphere of Fire. Beatrice explains the cause of
their ascent 1


Proem. Ascent to the Moon. The cause of Spots
on the Moon. Influence of the Heavens .... 8


The Heaven of the Moon. Spirits whose vows had
been broken. Piccarda Donati. The Empress
Constance 14


Doubts of Dante, respecting the justice of Heaven and
the abode of the blessed, solved by Beatrice. Ques-
tion of Dante as to the possibility of reparation for
broken vows ... ... 20



The sanctity of vows, and the seriousness with which
they are to be made or changed. Ascent to the
Heaven of Mercury. The shade of Justinian ... 26


Justinian tells of his own life. The story of the Ro-
man Eagle. Spirits in the planet Mercury.
Romeo 32


Discourse of Beatrice. The Fall of Man. The
scheme of his Redemption 39


Ascent to the Heaven of Venus. Spirits of Lovers.
Source of the order and the varieties in mortal
things 45


The Heaven of Venus. Conversation of Dante with
Cunizza da Romano. With Folco of Marseilles.
Rahab. Avarice of the Papal Court 63


Ascent to the Sun. Spirits of the wise, and the learned
in theology. St. Thomas Aquinas. He names
to Dante those who surround him 60



The vanity of worldly desires. St. Thomas Aquinas
undertakes to solve two doubts perplexing Dante.
He narrates the life of St. Francis of Assisi .... 67


Second circle of the spirits of wise religious men, doc-
tors of the Church and teachers. St. Bonaventura
narrates the life of St. Dominic, and tells the names
of those who form the circle with him 74


St. Thomas Aquinas speaks again, and explains the
relation of the wisdom of Solomon to that of Adam
and of Christ, and declares the vanity of human
judgment 82


At the prayer of Beatrice, Solomon tells of the glori-
fied body of the blessed after the Last Judgment.
Ascent to the Heaven of Mars. Spirits of the Sol-
diery of Christ in the form of a Cross with the figure
of Christ thereon. Hymn of the Spirits 89


Dante is welcomed by his ancestor Cacciaguida. Cac-
ciaguida tells of his family, and of the simple life of
Florence in the old days 95



The boast of blood. Cacciaguida continues his dis-
course concerning the old and the new Florence . . 102


Dante questions Cacciaguida as to his fortunes. Cac-
ciaguida replies, foretelling the exile of Dante, and
the renown of his Poem Ill


The Spirits in the Cross of Mars. Ascent to the
Heaven of Jupiter. Words shaped in light upon
the planet by the Spirits. Denunciation of the ava-
rice of the Popes 117


The voice of the Eagle. It speaks of the mysteries
of Divine justice ; of the necessity of Faith for sal-
vation ; of the sins of certain kings 123


The Song of the Just. Princes who have loved right-
eousness, in the eye of the Eagle. Spirits, once
Pagans, in bliss. Faith and Salvation. Predesti-
nation . . . , 130



Ascent to the Heaven of Saturn. Spirits of those who
had given themselves to devout contemplation. The
Golden Stairway. St. Peter Damian. Predestina-
tion. The luxury of modern Prelates 136


Beatrice reassures Dante. St. Benedict appears.
He tells of the founding of his Order, and of the
falling away of its brethren. Beatrice and Dante
ascend to the Starry Heaven. The constellation of
the Twins. Sight of the Earth 142

The Triumph of Christ 148


St. Peter examines Dante concerning Faith, and ap-
proves his answer 154


St. James examines Dante concerning Hope. St. John
appears, with a brightness so dazzling as to deprive
Dante, for the time, of sight 160


St. John examines Dante concerning Love. Dante's
sight restored. Adam appears, and answers ques-
tions put to him by Dante 167



Denunciation by St. Peter of his degenerate succes-
sors. Dante gazes upon the Earth. Ascent of
Beatrice and Dante to the Crystalline Heaven. Its
nature. Beatrice rebukes the covetousness of mor-
tals 173


The Heavenly Hierarchy 180



Discourse of Beatrice concerning the creation and
nature of the Angels. She reproves the presump-
tion and foolishness of preachers 186


Ascent to the Empyrean. The River of Light.
The celestial Rose. The seat of Henry VII. The
last words of Beatrice 192


The Rose of Paradise. St. Bernard. Prayer to Bea-
trice. The glory of the Blessed Virgin .... 198


St. Bernard describes the order of the Rose, and points
out many of the Saints. The children in Paradise.


The angelic festival. The patricians of the Court

of Heaven . . 204


Prayer to the Virgin. The Beatific Vision. The
Ultimate Salvation , . 210




Proem. Invocation. Beatrice and Dante ascend to
the Sphere of Fire. Beatrice explains the cause of their

THE glory of Him who moves everything pene-
trates through the universe, and shines in one part
more and in another less. In the heaven that
receives most of its light I have been, and have
seen things which he who descends from there-
above neither knows how nor is able to recount ;
because, drawing near to its own desire, 1 our under-
standing enters so deep, that the memory cannot
follow. Truly whatever of the Holy Realm I
could treasure up in my mind shall now be the
theme of my song.

O good Apollo, for this last labor make me such
a vessel of thy power as thou demandest for the
gift of the loved laurel. 2 Thus far one summit of

1 The innate desire of the soul is to attain the vision of God.
3 So inspire me in this labor that I may deserve the gift of the


Parnassus has been enough for me, but now with
both 1 1 need to enter the remaining arena. Enter
into my breast, and breathe thou in such wise as
when thou drewest Marsyas from out the sheath of
his limbs. O divine Power, if thou lend thyself
to me so that I may make manifest the image of
the Blessed Realm imprinted within my head, thou
shalt see me come to thy chosen tree, and crown
myself then with those leaves of which the theme
and thou will make me worthy. So rarely, Father,
are they gathered for triumph or of Caesar or of
poet (fault and shame of the human wills), that
the Peneian leaf 2 should bring forth joy unto the
joyous Delphic deity, whenever it makes any one
to long for it. Great flame follows a little spark :
perhaps after me prayer shall be made with better
voices, whereto Cyrrha 3 may respond.

The lamp of the world rises to mortals through
different passages, but from that which joins four
circles with three crosses it issues with better
course and conjoined with a better star, and it

1 The Muses were fabled to dwell on one peak of Parnassus,
Apollo on the other. At the opening of the preceding parts of
his poem. Dante has invoked the Muses only.

2 Daphne, who was changed to the laurel, was the daughter of

8 Cyrrha, a city sacred to Apollo, not far from the foot of Par-
nassus, and here used for the name of the god himself.


tempers and seals the mundane wax more after its
own fashion. 1 Almost such a passage had made
morning there and evening here; 2 and there all
that hemisphere was white, and the other part
black, when I saw Beatrice turned upon the left
side, and looking into the sun : never did eagle so
fix himself upon it. And even as a second ray is
wont to issue from the first, and mount upward
again, like a pilgrim who wishes to return ; thus of
her action, infused through the eyes into my imagi-
nation, mine was made, and I fixed my eyes upon
the sun beyond our use. Much is allowed there
which here is not allowed to our faculties, thanks
to the place made for the human race as its proper
abode. 3 Not long did I endure it, nor so little that
I did not see it sparkling round about, like iron
that issues boiling from the fire. And on a sudden, 4

1 In the spring the sun rises from a point on the horizon, where
the four great circles, namely, the horizon, the zodiac, the equator,
and the equinoctial colure, meet, and, cutting each other, form
three crosses. The sun is in the sign of Aries, " a better star,"
because the influence of this constellation was supposed to be
benignant, and under it the earth reclothes itself. It was the
season assigned to the Creation, and to the Annunciation.

2 There, in the Earthly Paradise ; here, on earth. It is the
morning of Thursday, April 13. The hours from the mid-day
preceding to this dawn are undescribed.

3 The Earthly Paradise, made for man in his original excellence.
* So rapid was his ascent to the sphere of fire, drawn upward

by the eyes of Beatrice.


day seemed to be added to day, as if He who is
able had adorned the heaven with another sun.

Beatrice was standing with her eyes wholly fixed
on the eternal wheels, and on her I fixed my eyes
from thereabove removed. Looking at her I in-
wardly became such as Glaucus l became on tasting
of the herb which made him consort in the sea of
the other gods. Transhumanizing cannot be sig-
nified in words ; therefore let the example 2 suffice
for him to whom grace reserves experience. If I
was only what of me thou didst the last create, 3 O
Love that governest the heavens, Thou knowest,
who with Thy light didst lift me. When the revo-
lution which Thou, being desired, makest eternal, 4
made me attent unto itself with the harmony
which Thou attunest and modulatest, so much of

1 A fisherman changed to a sea-god. The story is in Ovid
(Metamorphoses, xiii.).

2 Just cited, of Glaucus.

8 In the twenty-fifth Canto of Purgatory, Dante has said that
when the articulation of the brain is perfect God breathes into it
a new spirit, the living soul ; and he means here that, like St.
Paul caught up into Paradise, he cannot tell "whether in the body
or out of the body " (2 Corinthians, xii. 3).

* The desire to be united with God is the source of the eter-
nal revolution of the heavens. " The Empyrean ... is the
cause of the most swift motion of the Primum Mobile, because of
the most ardent desire of every part of the latter to be con-
joined with every part of that most divine quiet heaven." Con-
vito, ii. 4.


the heaven then seemed to me enkindled by the
flame of the sun, that rain or river never made so
broad a lake.

The novelty of the sound and the great light
kindled in me a desire concerning their cause,
never before felt with such acuteness. Whereupon
she, who saw me as I see myself, to quiet my per-
turbed mind opened her mouth, ere I mine to ask,
and began, " Thou thyself makest thyself dull
with false imagining, so that thou seest not what
thou wouldst see, if thou hadst shaken it off.
Thou art not on earth, as thou believest; but
lightning, flying from its proper site, never ran as
thou who thereunto 1 returnest."

If I was divested of my first doubt by these
brief little smiled-out words, within a new one
was I the more enmeshed. And I said, " Already I
rested content concerning a great wonder; but now
I wonder how I can transcend these light bodies."
Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh, directed her
eyes toward me, with that look which a mother
turns on her delirious son, and she began, "All
things whatsoever have order among themselves ;
and this is the form which makes the universe like
to God. Here 2 the high creatures 3 see the im-

1 To thine own proper site, Heaven, the true home of the soul.

2 In this order of the universe.

8 The created beings endowed with souls, angels and men.


print of the eternal Goodness, which is the end for
which the aforesaid rule is made. In the order of
which I speak, all natures are arranged, by diverse
lots, more or less near to their source ; 1 wherefore
they are moved to diverse ports through the great
sea of being, and each one with an instinct given
to it which may bear it on. This bears the fire
upward toward the moon ; this is the motive force
in mortal hearts ; this binds together and unites
the earth. Nor does this bow shoot forth 2 only
the created things which are outside intelligence,
but also those which have understanding and love.
The Providence that adjusts all this, with its
own light makes forever quiet the heaven 3 within
which that revolves which hath the greatest speed.
And thither now, as to a site decreed, the virtue
of that cord bears us on which directs to a joyful
mark whatever it shoots. True is it, that as the
form often accords not to the intention of the art,
because the material is deaf to respond, so the
creature sometimes deviates from this course ; for
it has power, though thus impelled, to incline in
another direction (even as the fire of a cloud may

1 The source of their being, God.

2 This instinct directs to their proper end animate as well as
inanimate things, as the bow shoots the arrow to its mark.

8 The Empyrean, within which the Primum Mobile, the first
moving heaven, revolves.


be seen to fall *), if the first impetus, bent aside by
false pleasure, turn it earthwards. Thou shouldst
not, if I deem aright, wonder more at thy ascent,
than at a stream if from a high mountain it de-
scends to the base. A marvel it would be in thee,
if, deprived of hindrance, thou hadst sat below,
even as quiet in living fire on earth would be."

Thereon she turned again toward heaven her

1 Contrary to its true nature.


Proem. Ascent to the Moon. The cause of Spots on
the Moon. Influence of the Heavens.

O YE who are in a little bark, desirous to listen,
following behind my craft which singing passes on,
turn to see again your shores ; put not out upon
the deep ; for haply losing me, ye would remain
astray. The water that I sail was never crossed.
Minerva inspires, and Apollo guides me, and nine
Muses point out to ine the Bears.

Ye other few, who have lifted up your necks be-
times to the bread of the Angels, on which one
here subsists, but never becomes sated of it, ye
may well put forth your vessel over the salt deep,
keeping my wake before you on the water which
turns smooth again. Those glorious ones who
passed over to Colcbos wondered not as ye shall
do, when they saw Jason become a ploughman.

The concreate and perpetual thirst for the dei-
form realm was bearing us on swift almost as ye
see the heavens. Beatrice was looking upward,
and I upon her, and perhaps in such time as a


quarrel 1 rests, and flies, and from the notch is un-
locked, 2 I saw myself arrived where a wonderful
thing drew my sight to itself ; and therefore she,
from whom the working of my mind could not be
hid, turned toward me, glad as beautiful. " Uplift
thy grateful mind to God," she said to me, " who
with the first star 3 has conjoined us."

It seemed to me that a cloud had covered us,
lucid, dense, solid, and polished, like a diamond
which the sun had struck. Within itself the eter-
nal pearl had received us, even as water receives
a ray of light, remaining unbroken. If I was body
(and here 4 it is not conceivable how one dimen-
sion brooked another, which needs must be if body
enter body) the desire ought the more to kindle
us to see that Essence, in which is seen how our
nature and God were united. There will be seen
that which we hold by faith, not demonstrated,
but it will be known of itself like the first truth
which man believes. 5

I replied, " My Lady, devoutly to the utmost
that I can, do I thank him who from the mortal
world has removed me. But tell me what are the

1 The bolt for a cross-bow.

2 The inverse order indicates the instantaneousness of the act.

3 The moon.

4 On earth, by mortal faculties.

6 Not demonstrated by argument, but known by direct cogni-
tion, like the intuitive perception of first principles, per se note.


dusky marks of this body, which there below on
earth make people fable about Cain ? " 1

She smiled somewhat, and then she said, " If the
opinion of mortals errs where the key of sense un-
locks not, surely the shafts of wonder ought not
now to pierce thee, since thou seest that the reason
following the senses has short wings. But tell me
what thou thyself thinkest of it." And I, " That
which here above appears to us diverse, I believe
is caused by rare and dense bodies." And she,
" Surely enough thou shalt see that thy belief is
submerged in error, if thou listenest . well to the
argument that I shall make against it. The eighth
sphere 2 displays to you many lights, which may be
noted of different aspects in quality and quantity.
If rare and dense effected all this, 3 one single
virtue, more or less or equally distributed, would
be in all. Different virtues must needs be fruits
of formal principles ; * and by thy reckoning, these,
all but one, woidd be destroyed. Further, if rarity
were the cause of that darkness of which you ask,

1 Fancying the dark spaces on the surface of the moon to rep-
resent Cain carrying a thorn-hush for the fire of his sacrifice.

2 The heaven of the fixed stars.

8 If all this difference were caused merely by difference in
rarity and density.

4 The stars exert various influences; hence their differences,
from which the variety of their influence proceeds, must be caused
by different formal principles or intrinsic causes.


either this planet would be thus deficient of its
matter through and through, or else as a body dis-
tributes the fat and the lean, so this would inter-
change the leaves in its volume. If the first were
the case, it would be manifest in the eclipses of the
sun, by the shining through of the light, as when
it is poured out upon any other rare body. This
is not so ; therefore we must look at the other, and
if it happen that I quash this other, thy opinion
will be falsified. If it be that this rare passes not
through, 1 there needs must be a limit, beyond
which its contrary allows it not to pass further ;
and thence the ray from another body is poured
back, just as color returns through a glass which
hides lead behind itself. Now thou wilt say that
the ray shows itself dimmer there than in the other
parts, by being there reflected from further back.
From this objection experiment, which is wont to
be the fountain to the streams of your arts, may
deliver thee, if ever thou try it. Thou shalt take
three mirrors, and set two of them at an equal
distance from thee, and let the other, further re-
moved, meet thine eyes between the first two.
Turning toward them, cause a light to be placed
behind thy back, which may illumine the three
mirrors, and return to thee thrown back from all.
Although the more distant image reach thee not

1 Extends not through the whole substance of the moon.


so great in quantity, thou wilt then see how it
cannot but be of equal brightness.

" Now, as beneath the blows of the warm rays
that which lies under the snow remains bare both
of the former color l and the cold, thee, thus re-
maining in thy intellect, will I inform with light so
living that it shall tremble in its aspect to thee. 2

" Within the heaven of the divine peace revolves
a body, in whose virtue lies the being of all that
it contains. 3 The following heaven, 4 which has so
many sights, distributes that being through di-
vers essences 5 from it distinct, and by it con-
tained. The other spheres, by various differences,
dispose the distinctions which they have within
themselves unto their ends and their seeds. 6
These organs of the world thus proceed, as thou
now seest, from grade to grade ; for they receive

1 The color of the snow.

2 My argument has removed the error which covered thy mind,
and now I will tell thee the true cause of the variety in the sur-
face of the moon.

8 Within the motionless sphere of the Empyrean revolves that
of the Primum Mobile, from whose virtue, communicated to it
from the Empyrean, all the inferior spheres contained within it
derive their special mode of being 1 .

4 The heaven of the Fixed Stars.

6 Through the planets, called essences because each has a spe-
cific mode of being.

6 " The rays of the heavens are the wav by which their virtue
descends to the things below." Convito, ii. 7.


from above, and operate below. Observe me well,
how I advance through this place to the truth
which thou desirest, so that hereafter thou mayest
know to keep the ford alone. The motion and
the virtue of the holy spheres must needs be in-
spired by blessed motors, as the work of the ham-
mer by the smith. And the heaven, which so many
lights make beautiful, takes its image from the
deep Mind which revolves it, and makes thereof a
seal. And as the soul within your dust is diffused
through different members, and conformed to di-
vers potencies, so the Intelligence 1 displays its
own goodness multiplied through the stars, itself
circling upon its own unity. Divers virtue makes
divers alloy with the precious body that it quick-
ens, in which, even as life in you, it is bound.
Because of the glad nature whence it flows, the
virtue mingled through the body shines, 2 as glad-
ness through the living pupil. From this 3 comes
whatso seems different between light arid light, not
from dense and rare ; this is the formal principle
which produces, conformed unto its goodness, the
dark and the bright."

1 Which moves the heavens.

2 The brightness of the stars comes from the joy which radiates
through them.

* From the divers virtue making divers alloy.


The Heaven of the Moon. Spirits whose vows had been
broken. Piccarda Donati. The Empress Constance.

THAT sun which first had heated my breast with
love, proving and refuting, had uncovered to me
the sweet aspect of fair truth ; and I, in order to
confess myself corrected and assured so far as was
needful, raised my head more erect to speak. But
a vision appeared which held me to itself so close
in order to be seen, that of my confession I re-
membered not.

As through transparent and polished glasses, or
through clear and tranquil waters, not so deep
that their bed be lost, the lineaments of our faces
return so feebly that a pearl on a white brow
comes not less readily to our eyes, so I saw many
faces eager to speak ; wherefore I ran into the
error contrary to that which kindled love between
the man and the fountain. 1 Suddenly, even as I
became aware of them, supposing them mirrored
semblances, I turned my eyes to see of whom they

1 Narcissus conceived the image to be a true face ; Dante takes
the real faces to be mirrored semblances.


were ; and I saw nothing ; and I turned them for-
ward again, straight into the light of the sweet
guide who, smiling, was glowing in her holy eyes.
" Wonder not because I smile," she said to me,
" at thy puerile thought, since thy foot trusts
itself not yet upon the truth, but turns thee, as it
is wont, to emptiness. True substances are these
which thou seest, here relegated through failure in
their vows. Therefore speak with them, and hear,
and believe ; for the veracious light which satisfies
them allows them not to turn their feet from it-

And I directed me to the shade that seemed
most eager to speak, and I began, even like a man
whom too strong wish confuses, " O well-created
spirit, who in the rays of life eternal tastest the
sweetness, which untasted never is understood, it
will be gracious to me, if thou contentest me with
thy name, and with your destiny." Whereon she
promptly, and with smiling eyes, " Our charity
locks not its door to a just wish, more than that
which wills that all its court be like itself. I was
in the world a virgin sister, 1 and if thy mind well
regards, my being more beautiful will not conceal
me from thee ; but thou wilt recognize that I am
Piccarda, 2 who, placed here with these other blessed

: A nun, of the order of St. Clare.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriThe Divine comedy of Dante Alighieri (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 14)